Royal Wedding: Should Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Get a Prenup?

By Christine Powers Leatherberry

Britain’s Prince Harry and actress-philanthropist Meghan Markle are scheduled to wed May 19, 2018. Prince Harry’s net worth is estimated at $40 million, while Markle’s net worth is speculated to be around $5 million. MarketWatch also reports that she will not return to her role in the popular TV series “Suits,” and she shut down her lifestyle website “The Tig” last spring.

By all accounts, Markle is all in when it comes to joining the Royal Family. She even deleted all of her social media accounts recently. However, the question remains, will the couple sign a premarital agreement before they walk down the aisle? Neither his father, Prince Charles, nor his brother, Prince William, signed prenups prior to getting married.

Quitting your job for marriage or have considerable wealth in your family? Consider a prenup

Premarital agreements can provide a number of benefits for both monied and non-monied parties. They can allow wealthy individuals to protect their assets, provide peace of mind for the lesser-monied party and potentially help couples avoid a litigious divorce.

Since Markle has given up her career and income received through acting and endorsements, a prenup could provide financial resources to ease her back into life as a commoner should the couple split.

For Prince Harry, a premarital agreement could protect his assets and those he is likely to inherit from his family – grandparents, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, and father, Prince Charles.

Five things Prince Harry and Meghan Markle should consider including in their premarital agreement

While laws pertaining to marriage, divorce and premarital agreements differ in the United Kingdom, many of the laws overseas are similar to those in the United States. Following are five things typically recommended for wealthy couples wanting a premarital agreement based on laws in Texas:

No. 1: Keep individual property separate.

Frequently referred to as a “roommate” prenup, this type of premarital agreement follows a “what’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is yours” philosophy. Many wealthy individuals want to ensure NO community property is created during the marriage. Instead, Prince Harry could agree to cover monthly living expenses and give Markle an allowance and other concessions, while requiring that she give up any community property rights.

No. 2: Include a signing bonus.

Some people view premarital agreements as a sign of distrust and may be reluctant to sign. To encourage the lesser-monied party to agree to a prenup, the wealthy party may offer a set dollar amount – or “signing bonus” – to be paid to the other party upon the signing of the agreement.

No. 3: Address other financial considerations.

Spelling out how much money the non-monied spouse will have at his or her disposal following the wedding is a good way to set expectations. Agreeing on specific budgets and clarifying potential payouts to be offered in the event of a divorce may also help couples avoid friction over money later on. Typical line items include:

During the marriage:

  • Monthly spending budget for miscellaneous expenses
  • Shopping/clothing allowance
  • Car/travel/entertainment allowance

Upon divorce or death:

  • Alimony or “exit bonus” based on duration of marriage should the couple divorce (may include cash, residence, jewels and other assets)
  • Provisions for treatment of any retirement plans or employee benefits (in Prince Harry’s case, this may include benefits pertaining to his military service)
  • Homestead rights – who will live in the couple’s home (or homes) after death, if the residence was separate property

No. 4: Establish guidelines for disbursement of wills and trusts.

Since Prince Harry is a member of a long-established family dynasty – the Royal Family – provisions are most likely in place regarding what assets he will inherit and when. What – if any – of those assets Markle would receive upon divorce could also be spelled out in a premarital agreement.

Concerned about protecting a family business? Learn more about business prenups here.

No. 5: Include confidentiality provisions.

The Royal Family has long kept its private affairs close to the vest. Markle has no doubt been counseled already regarding what she can and cannot say in public, which is probably why she shuttered her social media accounts.

Premarital agreements allow couples to put their privacy expectations in writing, which can help prevent conflict in the future. For high profile and affluent individuals, it can also be beneficial to include terms of confidentiality and penalties associated with violations of those terms.

Famous individuals like Prince Harry may also want to include a book deal clause (a penalty clause). This would prevent Markle from profiting from a tell-all book about her relationship with the Prince and the Royal Family. To help ensure compliance, the book deal clause could require that any proceeds derived from such a book would revert back to Prince Harry (or his estate in the event of his death).

Want to protect your assets or ensure financial security?

Contact a local family law attorney experienced in handling complex premarital agreements and divorces. He or she can guide you on how to protect your assets, business concerns and financial future with a premarital agreement that abides by the laws governing your state and country.

Christine Powers Leatherberry is a compassionate family lawyer who is equally comfortable in the courtroom as she is counseling her clients one-on-one. To learn more about divorce and child custody in Dallas and Collin Counties, please call 214-306-8441 to speak confidentially with a knowledgeable and considerate member of the Connatser Family Law team.

Photo Source: By Mark Jones [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons